Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When science goes too far, and man “kills God”
Many of us get excited when we hear about the newest scientific enhancements that are supposed to improve our world, and many of these do. However, many of us also accept that sometimes science goes too far. In our modern culture we see several examples where people use their imaginations to present situations where the science has, in some people’s eyes, overstepped our mortal boundaries and trespassed into the territory or playing God, often with disastrous results upon the offenders.
The first example would be in the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Dr. Frankenstein was obsessed with finding the components of life, and thanks to dark experimentation he created a grotesque monster. This creation spent its life in terrible loneliness, for he was never referred to as a human or treated humanely, even by his creator. The monster ended up going mad, stalking Frankenstein and, after Frankenstein continued to reject his own creation, killing several of Dr. Frankenstein’s loved ones. Dr. Frankenstein asked the monster what it would take to get him to stop. The monster simply asks for a female companion so that he would not be alone. Before Frankenstein grants his wish, however, he becomes fearful of bringing another creature into the world and destroys her, sealing both his and the monster’s fate of destruction.
Thanks to Frankenstein’s act of playing God and his lack of compassion he was left with a creature that had no place in the world, leading to the destruction of them both. The creation of new life cannot be taken lightly. If such a situation were to happen, where an intelligent being was created, it creates the problems of deciding whether the creation should have human rights and how we should treat it. Also this creature would be stuck in the terrible place of not belonging, leading to the same mental anguish as Frankenstein’s monster. The monster’s personality was darkened by lack of love and a sense of belonging. Tampering with intelligent life can be seen to create more suffering than good.
The creation of life that no longer exists on Earth can be equally controversial. In the case of Jurassic Park, a book by Michael Chrichton and its film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg, dinosaurs are resurrected to be displayed and studied within an island resort. The owner John Hammond believes they are under his control. As pointed out by the character Ian Malcom though, “life finds a way.” After several disastrous events one after the other it is clear that this ancient nature cannot be controlled. Toying with de-extinction is risky. In the case of dinosaurs, the Earth’s environment no longer supports these organisms which have been extinct for millions of years.
It is also unclear whether or not these animals could even be considered actual dinosaurs. The DNA of the animals of Jurassic Park was patched and modified. Empty spaces were filled with the DNA of frogs (part of the reason why the island spires out of control), and in the book the animals’ genetic code was tampered with to make the dinosaurs more docile. These changes where to not only enable the creatures to exist in the first place, but to also be under the control of man. However, in the book Hammond expresses concerns over the fact that he thinks guests would be happier seeing ‘real’ dinosaurs, animals as close to the original as possible, without the traits causing them to be less ‘wild’. But even if the animals were tampered with as little as possible, it could be argued still that, even though we think they look like dinosaurs, they cannot be considered dinosaurs. The problem is the limitation of man’s knowledge. We cannot know for certain how the dinosaurs behaved or looked like millions of years ago. However, the scientists of Jurassic Park attempt to play God and eventually suffer for the results. The scientists assume that they know what could go wrong, that they understood these animals because they created them, and that they had placed the appropriate measures to control their miniature ecosystem. They with their limited knowledge were not prepared for the chaos. Dinosaurs would catch mysterious illnesses, a disgruntled worker would shut off the electric fences, the frog DNA caused some of the animals to become male allowing them to breed, and deadly predators hunted the island’s visitors and workers. The animals prove to be beyond their control, and the island resort is evacuated, but not before several people were killed.Mankind often assumes that with the technology we have we are above nature and thus command the Earth and its life. What is important to realize is that we do not have control. Natural disasters occur constantly, and slowly we begin to realize that we are not all powerful. Stories like Jurassic Park are there to remind us of our own mortal limitations, that mankind was never meant to play God. As said by the character Ian Malcom, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” “God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.”